Michael Sam cut by Rams

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EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams released defensive end Michael Sam on Saturday, the team announced.

Sam's efforts to become the first openly gay player in NFL history came up just short in a competition against undrafted rookie Ethan Westbrooks.

Westbrooks is one of nine defensive linemen to land a roster spot on the team.

Sam thanked the Rams for the opportunity in a series of tweets after the Rams made the announcement.

Sam officially hit waivers Saturday at 4 p.m. ET when all NFL teams had to trim their rosters down to the league-mandated 53 players. From there, the other 31 teams will have until noon ET on Sunday to put in a claim for Sam. If he goes unclaimed, he will be free to sign with a practice squad.

According to one league source, the Rams would like to bring Sam back to their 10-man practice squad.

"There will be no challenge, no challenges whatsoever," for whatever team picks up Sam, Rams coach Jeff Fisher said at a news conference.

"There's no challenge with respect to Mike Sam," Fisher said. "He's not about drawing attention to himself. He kept his head down and worked and you can't ask anything more out of any player for that matter."

Fisher repeated over and over that it was purely a football decision.

"I will tell you this: I was pulling for Mike," he said. "I really was, and I don't say that very often. Mike came in here and did everything we asked him to do."

Teams can begin signing players waived in the final round of cuts after the waiver period ends Sunday.

Fisher fended off a question about re-signing Sam to the practice squad, saying any roster adjustments would depend on other players now on the market.

The coach personally delivered the news to all of the cuts, except for Sam, who attended Missouri's opener in Columbia, a 1½-hour drive west on I-70 from Rams Park, and learned via cell phone. He was introduced to the crowd in the end zone alongside cornerback E.J. Gaines, a sixth-round pick who made the team.

Sam blew a kiss and waved to the crowd, then walked back to the sideline. He posed for a few pictures then started looking at his phone and headed for the locker room.

Fisher plans to meet with Sam on Sunday.

"He said 'Yes sir,' and he said, 'I understand.' He said, 'Thanks for the opportunity,' and I said, 'Mike, I'm looking forward to visiting with you tomorrow,' and he goes, 'I am, too,'" Fisher said of their phone conversation.

Former tennis great Billie Jean King, who is openly gay, called Sam "remarkable" despite being cut.

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